A Call for Sanity: Are 300,000 Apps Too Many?

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Some sources report that there are now 300,000 apps available for iOS devices. Whether or not the number is actually there yet, it will be soon, and that’s an impressive feat for Apple. But is it the best thing for Apple consumers and iOS developers?

Granted, it’s an amazing rate of growth, especially considering that Apple announced the 250,000 app milestone only recently. It shows that despite the rising influence of Android, developers still like Apple’s platform best, if only because its ability to make money stands on much more solid ground.

Too Much Choice

While I appreciate the wealth of choice offered by the App Store, I do think these library size milestones are getting slightly out of hand. 300,000? What does that level of selection even mean to the average consumer? At this point, the number has everything to do with impressing stockholders, and very little to do with pleasing consumers and/or developers.

I propose Apple do something shocking: Now that they’ve reached a library size that its closest competitors could only dream of, why not go about significantly reducing that number? The App Store already has a reputation as a walled garden, so why not turn that reputation into a positive?

Real Gatekeeping

As it stands, Apple’s nebulous guidelines regarding App Store content basically ensure its legal interests are covered, developers don’t expand the capabilities of an iOS device beyond what Apple intends, and no objectionable content makes it through the gate. Apple has run up against criticism for what some have seen as rejections designed to either stifle expression or prevent people from gaining access to device features Cupertino reserves for its own use.

How much better would it be, for both the development community and consumers alike, if instead, Apple wielded its executive power to enforce a high standard of quality instead? A much smaller library would make the App Store more competitive, encourage more innovative design, and result in higher profits for the apps that did make it through. Good apps wouldn’t be lost amid a sea of questionable content.

Better Tend a Smaller Garden

I’m a fan of choice, but at this point in the game, Apple has the luxury of being able to enforce restrictions that would make the choosing that much sweeter. As it stands, there’s nothing stopping developers from releasing countless carbon copies of a poor quality app with minor cosmetic changes (and not for the better). That’s the kind of choice I don’t want.

Apple, celebrate the 300,000 app milestone by freezing or even decreasing that number. Take your curation duties seriously, and differentiate the App Store by making it the software market of quality, since the Android Market, being open, will probably catch up volume-wise soon enough anyway. Good developers will thank you, and so will consumers.

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